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back to article RIP Brian Wynne Oakley: Saviour of Bletchley Park

Brian Wynne Oakley has died aged 85. According to the Real Time Club, of which Oakley was a chairman, he "enjoyed a very distinguished career playing a major role in the development of computing both in the UK and in Europe". Oakley was rarity: a civil servant who grasped the significance of information technology for the …

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FAIL

"IBM produced its first PC in 1981: the Acorn 8088 running MS-DOS." Really?

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What a remarkable man. I confess I had not heard of him but it seems we owe him a debt of thanks.

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Unhappy

I know it seems incredible to us now

but Britain in the early 1980s was a world leader in IT teaching.

RIP

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I went with my son to Bletchley Park this summer and it was actually quite good :) We saw a great demonstration of a Bombe machine and plenty of models and wartime toy collections, including a scale submarine in the entrance roadway.

We arrived around lunchtime, so unfortunately didn't have time to see Colossus or the National Museum of Computing, but entry tickets can be used as often as desired for 1 year from purchase (Colossus and NMoC are extra however)

To top it off, the gift shop was relatively tat free and well stocked with books. They also have an Enigma kit for a hundred and twenty quid with which you can construct a working replica.

All in all, worth the visit and as a bonus, you can go back anytime with that ticket. Bear in mind that Colossus is only viewable at certain times/days, so check before visiting if you want to see that.

So if nothing else, a great legacy, cheers Mr Oakley.

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Headmaster

underneath a housing estate in the Midlands...

I was unaware of the plan to dig it up Bletchley Park and transport it so far, perhaps El Reg could elaborate on this hither to unknown transportation to The Midlands.

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Re: underneath a housing estate in the Midlands...

I think during the War the Midlands was moved down south to confuse the Germans in the case of invasion, about the same time they installed hundreds of anti-tank roundabouts in Milton Keynes to help defend Bletchley.

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Re: underneath a housing estate in the Midlands...

As a Northerner now resident in Bucks, I agree, but it's not that far. Northants is generally considered 'Midlands' and starts only a few miles from Bletchley.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: not that far

a few miles might not be far to carry your lunch or maybe even a rucksack.. but it's a hell of a long way to take an entire stately home and estate...

You also have to wary of the phrase 'Generally Considered' this is exactly how the borders creep.. how black and white becomes grey and why everywhere outside London is 'generally considered' foreign lands..

As a real Midlands dweller I know where up north is and where down south dwells, and I know that Milton Keynes ain't round ere.

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Anonymous Coward

anti-tank roundabouts

sheer genius that, knowing that German tanks would attempt to circumnavigate anticlockwise whereas the Brits would just drive around the right way...

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Re: not that far

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. 'Midlands' is hardly a well-defined geographical entity (though some places, such as Birmingham indisputably belong there). Where I was brought up, Manchester was definitely 'Midlands' and Sheffield was 'South'. You may find, however, that the UK and EU governments disagree with you (as does the infallible Wikipedia).

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Re: underneath a housing estate in the Midlands...

I don't think anyone would call Milton Keynes (and hence Bletchley) the Midlands in terms of political or geographical boundaries, but it's not far off it. There have been a number of planning documents which talk about "Milton Keynes and the South Midlands", which roughly refers to Northampton, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Luton and their surrounding areas (sometimes covering the whole of Northants and Beds), but it's certainly not a well-defined area. The local BBC television for all these areas is the East, based in Cambridge, which makes the local news rather baffling.

I've worked in MK for several years, and now live in Northampton, and it's long struck me that the whole area around MK is basically border country and has been for 1200 years back to when it was the boundary between Mercia, Wessex and the Danelaw!

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Anonymous Coward

Bletchley, Bucks

I lived there from about 1962 until 1974. I went to the grammar school which was adjacent to Bletchley Park.

Buckinghamshire is one of the "Home Counties", and not in the Midlands.

My pet peeve, nowadays thankfully corrected, was that the BBC used to always refer tot Bletchley Park as being in Hertfordshire. Possibly some hangover from war-time disinformation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: not that far

eh.. try the first link above. they do seem to tally, Northamptonshire Yes, Buckinghamshire (and hence Bletchley) No.

The Midlands, both East Midlands and West Midlands are Strictly Defined geographic entities and are definitely recognised by the EU!

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Happy

Oh dear, what have I started

Let's just try to clear this up.

1) Bletchley is in Buckinghamshire.

2) Buckinghamshire is not in the Midlands.

3) Northamptonshire is in the (East) Midlands, according to the UK government and EU (though personal interpretations may vary).

4) Bletchley is only a few miles from the Northants border (and parts of Northants are further south than Bletchley).

5) So the original article was wrong to place Bletchley in the Midlands - but it's only slightly wrong.

HTH (and sorry for the thread drift - Mr Oakley was a top man, BTW)

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North South Divide

It must be in the Midlands because by the time you get to Milton Keynes/Bletchley, you would already be half way up the M1 to Watford Gap services (starting from the M25, of course) - and every Southerner knows that everything past Watford Gap is "The North".

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Re: North South Divide

Actually, anything past Watford is "the north".

Thank you, Mr Oakley, I live less than a mile from Bletchley Park and can wholly recommend it.

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Headmaster

Re: North South Divide

North of Watford GAP is north, Watford is well south

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Coat

Every day...

We lose men and women of vision who are replaced by faceless, uncaring bureaucrats who just don't give a toss until six weeks before election day.

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I didn't know who it was, but I did know that a civil servant had been instrumental in saving Bletchley Park.

R.I.P.

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And then to cap that career.............

Brian Oakley was also the chairman of the Quantum Computing in Europe Pathfinder Project for the European Commission which directly led to funding in the Vth Framework research programme in Europe and EPSRC funding the Quantum Information Processing Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration in the UK

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